Man Killed by Israeli Fire as Gaza 'Great March of Return' Protests Enter 4th Week
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A Gaza man was killed on Friday by Israeli troops firing from across the strip's border, health officials said, as hundreds of Palestinians flocked to the frontier for the fourth weekly protest.
In one area, several dozen Palestinians moved toward the border fence. Some threw stones and others flew kites with burning rags dangling from their tails, part of a new tactic aimed at setting fields on the Israeli side on fire. Israel forces fired tear gas to push them back.
Earlier Friday, Israeli military aircraft had dropped leaflets urging Palestinians to stay away from the fence and warning that they endanger their lives if they follow directives of Gaza's Hamas rulers, who have taken the lead in organizing the protests.
In the past three weeks, 28 Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli troops firing from across the border fence.
On Friday, a 25-year-old Palestinian was critically wounded in the head by Israeli army fire and later died of his injuries, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The man was hit in the border area, east of the town of Jebaliya, but the ministry did not provide more details, AP reported.
The Israeli military said it was looking into the incident.
Israel has faced international criticism for its response to the mass marches. Rights groups have branded open-fire orders as unlawful, saying they effectively permit soldiers to use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters.
The protests are to continue at least until May 15, the anniversary of Israel's 1948 creation. Palestinians mark the day as their "nakba," or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands fled or were driven from their homes in the Mideast war over Israel's founding.
On Thursday, organizers moved sit-in protest tents, each set up several hundred meters from the border, closer to the fence. Organizers said they will gradually move the camps toward the fence until May 15, but have made conflicting comments about a possible mass border breach.
Hamas says the protests are aimed at breaking a crippling border blockade that was imposed by Israel and Egypt since 2007.
The marches also press for the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel.